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Generating electricity from the oceans


  • Bahaj, AbuBakr S.


Ocean energy has many forms, encompassing tides, surface waves, ocean circulation, salinity and thermal gradients. This paper will considers two of these, namely those found in the kinetic energy resource in tidal streams or marine currents, driven by gravitational effects, and the resources in wind-driven waves, derived ultimately from solar energy. There is growing interest around the world in the utilisation of wave energy and marine currents (tidal stream) for the generation of electrical power. Marine currents are predictable and could be utilised without the need for barrages and the impounding of water, whilst wave energy is inherently less predictable, being a consequence of wind energy. The conversion of these resources into sustainable electrical power offers immense opportunities to nations endowed with such resources and this work is partially aimed at addressing such prospects. The research presented conveys the current status of wave and marine current energy conversion technologies addressing issues related to their infancy (only a handful being at the commercial prototype stage) as compared to others such offshore wind. The work establishes a step-by-step approach that could be used in technology and project development, depicting results based on experimental and field observations on device fundamentals, modelling approaches, project development issues. It includes analysis of the various pathways and approaches needed for technology and device or converter deployment issues. As most technology developments are currently UK based, the paper also discusses the UK's financial mechanisms available to support this area of renewable energy, highlighting the needed economic approaches in technology development phases. Examination of future prospects for wave and marine current ocean energy technologies are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Bahaj, AbuBakr S., 2011. "Generating electricity from the oceans," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(7), pages 3399-3416, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:15:y:2011:i:7:p:3399-3416

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mackay, Edward B.L. & Bahaj, AbuBakr S. & Challenor, Peter G., 2010. "Uncertainty in wave energy resource assessment. Part 1: Historic data," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1792-1808.
    2. Bahaj, A.S. & Molland, A.F. & Chaplin, J.R. & Batten, W.M.J., 2007. "Power and thrust measurements of marine current turbines under various hydrodynamic flow conditions in a cavitation tunnel and a towing tank," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 407-426.
    3. Mackay, Edward B.L. & Bahaj, AbuBakr S. & Challenor, Peter G., 2010. "Uncertainty in wave energy resource assessment. Part 2: Variability and predictability," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1809-1819.
    4. Bahaj, A.S. & Batten, W.M.J. & McCann, G., 2007. "Experimental verifications of numerical predictions for the hydrodynamic performance of horizontal axis marine current turbines," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 32(15), pages 2479-2490.
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